On April 5-6, the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy, will host a conference entitled “Geopolitics of Transnational Law and Religion.” The Foundation’s description of the conference follows; more information, including contact information for the conference organizer, can be found here.
The aim of this event is to contextualize current events within the global scenario of culture wars through the frame of legal narrative and geopolitical imagery, in which religious factors and variables play a significant role. Legal orders and conscience-related conflicts are therefore understood in the context of a constantly shifting and fragmenting international legal regime.
In May, Blue Dome Press will release the paperback edition of “No Return from Democracy”: An Analysis of Interviews with Fethullah Gülen by Faruk Mercan, a Turkish journalist. The publisher’s description follows:
It was rare, if not impossible, to find in ’80s and ’90s a Muslim cleric who spoke in favor of democracy, integration with the Western world, and universal human values. Fethullah Gülen was one of those. Many of his avant-garde ideas did not only earn him one of the largest and most influential faith-inspired social movements of recent history, but also many foes, especially from the Turkish ruling elite, placing him in the center of many social and political developments in Turkey. Despite the enormous defamation from some political groups in Turkey, Gülen is recognized in the world as a devout Muslim cleric, whose thoughts and life style are deeply rooted in the Islamic faith, but who also believes Islam is not in conflict with the progressive values of the modern world. This book collates Gülen’s ahead-of-his-time comments on some of the debated issues as he phrased in interviews in the past few decades.
In May, Oxford University Press will release Set in Stone: America’s Embrace of the Ten Commandments by Jenna Weissman Joselit (George Washington University). The publisher’s description follows:
When Cecil B. DeMille’s epic, The Ten Commandments, came out in 1956, lines of people crowded into theaters across America to admire the movie’s spectacular special effects. Thanks to DeMille, the commandments now had fans as well as adherents. But the country’s fascination with the Ten Commandments goes well beyond the colossal scenes of this Hollywood classic.
In this vividly rendered narrative, Jenna Weissman Joselit situates the Ten Commandments within the fabric of American history. Her subjects range from the 1860 tale of the amateur who claimed to have discovered ancient holy stones inside a burial mound in Ohio to the San Francisco congregation of Sherith Israel, which commissioned aluminous piece of stained glass depicting Moses in Yosemite for its sanctuary; from the Kansas politician Charles Walter, who in the late nineteenth century proposed codifying each commandment into state law, to the radio commentator Laura Schlessinger, who popularized the Ten Commandments as a psychotherapeutic tool in the 1990s.
At once text and object, celestial and earthbound, Judaic and Christian, the Ten Commandments were not just a theological imperative in the New World; they also provoked heated discussions around key issues such as national identity, inclusion, and pluralism. In a country as diverse and heterogeneous as the United States, the Ten Commandments offered common ground and held out the promise of order and stability, becoming the lodestar of American identity. While archaeologists, theologians, and devotees across the world still wonder what became of the tablets that Moses received on Mount Sinai, Weissman Joselit offers a surprising answer: they landed in the United States.